Angel Dust

By Alice Rojas

I Carry Home Inside of Me

I've always lived in two homes with divorced parents. This year, I added a third home to my life when I moved across the country to go to college in upstate New York. I believe that home doesn't have to be a physical place, but it can be the people you're with, a moment in time, or yourself. Four walls don't make a home, what happens inside it does. 

In this photo series, I've included images of both my parents' homes as well as my college dorm room. In the shot of the outside of my house, you can just see my mom in the kitchen. The photo of my dog highlights how beautiful the sun is in my dad's house. And the shot of the outside of my dorm was the night of the first big snow on campus, when everyone was running around outside and it really felt like home. 

No matter where I go, I carry home inside me. 

By Carly Hough


According to Merriam Webster:
Definition of death
1a : a permanent cessation of all vital functions : the end of life  
  • The cause of death has not been determined.
  • managed to escape death
  • prisoners were put to death
  • death threats
b : an instance of dying  
  • a disease causing many deaths
  • lived there until her death

When I was a young girl, I was afraid of death. Really, truly, indescribably afraid. It consumed me.

I had my first panic attack when I was in third grade. I remember it so vividly. I was sitting with the rest of my third grade class in the area between all the classrooms, which was referred to as “the pod.” We’re having a weird, last-minute assembly, led by My Friend’s Mom, The Nurse. The school has called her in to discuss some strange game that the kids have apparently been playing at lunch called “The Choking Game.” In this game, kids take turns holding their breath as long as possible in an attempt to temporarily lose consciousness. In retrospect, this game sounds incredibly stupid, but to 8-year-old me, it was terrifying.

My Friend’s Mom, The Nurse, stands in front of us at a white board drawing a diagram of an esophagus and explaining all the horrible things that could happen to us if we chose to partake in this game. As she talks about holding one’s breath, I become incredibly conscious of my own breathing. The practice of pulling air in and out of my lungs becomes difficult. The Nurse keeps talking about everything that could go wrong with the game and how we could die if we play it, and suddenly I can’t breathe at all.

That was the first time I ever thought I was dying.

Christians believe in heaven.
Jews believe in the afterlife.
Muslims believe in the continued existence of the soul.
Buddhists believe in samsara, a continuous cycle of life and death until one reaches enlightenment.
Hindus believe in reincarnation.
Atheists do not believe in an afterlife.
I still do not know what I believe. 

Looking back, third grade was a pretty bad year for me. I had another terrible panic attack that year, again in that damn pod.

They packed all of us third graders in there one day for a movie, which in theory sounds like a pretty great elementary school day. And it was, for a while. 

The movie we watched that day was the animated classic Charlotte’s Web, which, being named Charlotte, I had probably seen a million times before. That movie/book was practically my elementary school claim to fame. In fact, when they turned the movie on, I’m pretty sure everyone in my class turned and looked at me. Maybe that’s why I thought Charlotte the Spider and I were one in the same. I don’t know. What I do know is that halfway through the movie, I had convinced myself that the moment Charlotte the Spider died onscreen I was also going to die. I had not yet been diagnosed with OCD and could not differentiate between my rational and irrational thoughts.

I was a good student, the kind that never got in trouble and that all the teachers loved. But in that moment, I knew I had to leave that pod. I remember frantically debating in my head what would happen if I ran out of the room to go to the bathroom–or anywhere else for that matter. Would a teacher yell at me? Would I be forced to stay? Would I get in trouble? These thoughts only made me panic more. I couldn’t breathe, and Charlotte the Spider’s onscreen death was quickly approaching. My time was running out. 

So I did it. I sprinted to the bathroom.

I was relieved when I made it to that dark, dingy bathroom. The walls were covered in grimy green tiles, and the entire bathroom reeked of disinfectant. Still, in that moment, that bathroom was the best safe haven I ever could have asked for. I stared at myself in the mirror until I felt my breathing return to normal.

It all ended up being pretty anticlimactic, as I returned and no one had even noticed I was gone, but I felt like I had only narrowly escaped death that day.

When I am in high school, I encounter an actual death for the first time. It’s senior year, a week before we are all set to graduate, when a boy from my class dies in a car accident.

I am working at an event, taking pictures for a children’s soccer team when my friend (and future college roommate) Roselyn breaks the news to me: “Garrett died.”

I am in shock.

I had an English class with Garrett only two years before. We weren’t close by any means, but he was kind and funny, and when I learn about his death I feel like I have been punched in the stomach. Garrett was unusual. He was the rare kind of popular kid that was nice to everyone and made every person around him feel included.

Garrett’s friends arrange an impromptu memorial service for him in our high school’s senior parking lot. A parking lot that he had parked his car in only a day before. His closest friends stand on the flatbed of someone’s truck, sharing their favorite memories of him. While one of them speaks, a shooting star passes overhead. I swear it is a sign from Garrett.

Everyone in the crowd holds a candle, and friends hold sobbing friends in their arms. Garrett’s good friend, The Boy From My English Class, steps up to speak next. The Boy From My English Class has sat next to me all year and I have never seen him without his signature goofy grin on his face. Seeing him cry is unsettling. Suddenly I am crying too, clutching the hand of one of my good friends.

Life doesn’t stop, and eventually our entire class graduates, including Garrett. His older sister accepts the diploma on his behalf.

Sometimes I still think about Garrett. He was supposed to go to the same college as me. Sometimes I wonder how he would have been doing or if we would have had any classes together.

As I write this, I have several tabs open on my browser. I take turns writing and scrolling through Twitter (a terrible habit). And then I see it.

There’s an application on Twitter that counts followers and automatically posts from a person’s account every once and a while. Whenever it posts from Garrett’s account, my heart skips a beat. It’s incredibly haunting to see a tweet from someone who has died, but I can’t bring myself to unfollow him because, well, who unfollows the dead?

Garrett has not posted anything else in about three years now. His icon is a picture from one of his senior portraits. The application occasionally posts for him, while he remains standing there, frozen in time, forever a high school senior. 

How is it that a girl who spent her entire youth fearing death would later become a girl that constantly battled suicidal thoughts? It makes me feel guilty sometimes. It’s not that I want to feel this way; I don’t. Still, after everything that little girl went through, it sometimes feels like I am betraying her when depression gets the best of me and I consider–just for a second–swallowing an entire bottle of pills.

Then again, maybe I can’t blame myself. Maybe it runs in our family.

My father has a long, jagged scar on his chest. When I was a precocious 7-year-old, I asked him what it was and pouted when he said, “I’ll tell you when you’re older.” I always had to know everything. I hated not knowing secrets. I still do.

A few years later, my father sits me down and divulges his secrets. One of them is that he attempted suicide before I was born. In a delusional manic episode, he stabbed himself in the chest. Thankfully, he had pretty poor aim and only punctured a lung.

I cry for him that day.

I will later cry tears for both of us when I start having similar thoughts as a teenager.

Funeral rituals from around the world:
  • In South Korea, bodies are often cremated and pressed into beads.
  • In Madagascar, the Malagasy people practice “The Turning of the Bones,” in which they dig up, spruce up, then re-bury the bones of loved ones every few years.
  • In the Phillipines, coffins are hung on mountainsides so the dead are closer to the sky.
I find these burial traditions on a website called Everplans. In the midst of my reading, a window pops up that asks me if I am thinking about my plans. To the right, there is an ad that reads “Leave a legacy, not a mess. Get things organized for your family.” I find this website equally hilarious and terrifying.

A day after my 20th birthday, I learn that my childhood friend Charlotte has been murdered. A boy from her high school had broken into her home with a gun the night before. Her mother (My Friend’s Mom, The Nurse) was shot too, but survived.

Charlotte’s death hits me hard. She was one of the few genuinely good, pure people in this world. She volunteered with the elderly on the weekends and spent her free time with animals. She made sure no one ever felt alone and stood up for what was right.

At her funeral service, I hold my sister’s hand extra tight. She had sat next to Charlotte on the bus only a few days before, a bus they rode with the boy that would become Charlotte’s murderer.

I think back to my two most vivid death-related panic attacks from my childhood. One involved Charlotte’s mother. The other involved the name Charlotte. It almost feels like a sick, twisted premonition.

When I was younger, I constantly feared that I had caught very obscure fatal diseases. It was completely ridiculous and unrealistic, but the fear was constant and very intrusive.

A list of some diseases that I thought I had acquired at some time or another:
  • Black Death/Bubonic Plague
  • Scarlet Fever
  • Yellow Fever
  • Cholera
  • Tuberculosis
Looking back, I definitely read too much as a kid, and probably about things that I shouldn’t have. What kind of 9-year-old even knows what Yellow Fever is? Why couldn’t I have played Pokémon or jump-roped instead of worrying whether or not I had Tuberculosis?

“To fear death, my friends, is only to think ourselves wise, without being wise: for it is to think that we know what we do not know. For anything that men can tell, death may be the greatest good that can happen to them: but they fear it as if they knew quite well that it was the greatest of evils. And what is this but that shameful ignorance of thinking that we know what we do not know?”     

As a kid, I had a strange obsession with the sinking of the Titanic. I found it fascinating that something could be so beautiful yet so fragile. Everyone thought the Titanic was invincible, but nothing is, really. 

I loved the pictures of the ship, the elaborate, old-fashioned décor, the women in their intricate dresses, and the men with their fancy mustaches and suits. I also liked how the Titanic was the most haunting story I had ever heard. It was so tragic, yet romantic. Or at least that’s the way all the books I read made it sound. Years later I would realize that there’s nothing romantic about drowning to death or one’s organs shutting down from freezing temperatures.

Before writing this, I have just finished listening to a podcast about conspiracy theories. The most recent episode is all about death. I guess I am still intrigued by the macabre. Even though these subjects scare me most of the time, I still like learning about them. I guess old habits die hard.

While googling the word “death,” I find this article on Wikipedia: 
Death anxiety is anxiety which is caused by thoughts of death. One source defines death anxiety as a "feeling of dread, apprehension or solicitude (anxiety) when one thinks of the process of dying, or ceasing to 'be'". It is also referred to as thanatophobia (fear of death)…”

In all my life, I had never heard this term before. Thanatophobia. I always knew that other people feared death too, but a wave of relief comes over me when I see that it has a name. Thanatophobia. I wish I could show this article to my younger self.

I recently spent an afternoon with my grandmother, sitting and watching old TV shows. I originally intended for this entire piece to be about her, but I couldn’t bring myself to write it. Not yet. 

My family is visiting my grandma in Ohio for her 90th birthday. My grandparents lived near me my whole life, but recently moved to Cincinnati to live with my Aunt and Uncle following my grandma’s stroke. 

My sister is making pasta when my grandma tries to get her attention. She can’t remember my sister’s name.

“It’s Audrey,” I say with a smile, trying my best to hold back tears.

It wasn’t always like this. 

Still, even in her deteriorated state, my grandma is a firecracker. She cracks jokes and always asks for a second slice of pie. I see myself in her.

Before we got to Ohio, my mom told us that it might be the last time we would see my grandma. I am still trying to accept this. I always pictured all of my grandparents at my college graduation, as guests at my wedding, meeting my children.

While watching M*A*S*H with my grandma, she turns to me and says that we should come visit in the summer. I instantly think of something that my mother said to me the night before. We’ll be lucky if she makes it to the spring. I think it’s strange, measuring time in seasons like this. I usually love spring, but this year I dread its arrival. Despite my hatred of the cold, I would gladly accept an unending winter if it meant that things could be different.

The first tattoo I ever got was of lyrics from a song by The Smiths. The lyrics are on my ribs in slanted cursive. I always knew this would be my first tattoo. I can even remember sitting in Spanish class in high school scrawling the lyrics into my journal.

And if a double-decker bus crashes into us
To die by your side is such a heavenly way to die
And if a ten-tonne truck kills the both of us
To die by your side
Well the pleasure, the privilege is mine

The song ends by repeating the line “There is a light that never goes out.” That’s what I have tattooed on my side. I always took it to mean that even when we die, our light shines on. I’m not sure if that’s what Morrissey and Johnny Marr intended when they wrote it, but that’s how I’ve always interpreted it, and it’s the reason that I had it tattooed.

I spent so many years fearing death and then so many more years wishing I would die. I’ve been fascinated by death, and I’ve loathed it. I don’t know what I believe, but I do believe this:

There is a light that never goes out. 

By Charlotte Smith

Home for the Holidays: A December Comic

It's the holiday season and you can really feel it everywhere. A lot of people will be going home for the Christmas season, which can be one of the best things for people who usually live alone far from their families. Now's the best time to finally be reunited, because nothing truly beats home. Happy holidays! 

By Julia Tabor

And a Happy New Year

It was all silent. But once the sweet sound of snoring began to come from under a speckled blanket, the clock’s hands began ticking quieter and it was clear that the grandfather had finally fallen asleep. A welcoming smell of fir needles was spread across the room, making it impossible not to notice a clumsily decorated but dazzling Christmas tree. It was half past seven, an hour before the mother would wake everyone up from a two-hour rest that every child needs in order to celebrate the New Year until dawn. 

Eventually, sleep conquered the children in spite of their reluctance (tears had been used to convince their parents that no rest was necessary for them). As they fell asleep, their presents had yet to be wrapped: in advance, parents prepare every gift to be put under a tree while the last minute of the year is expiring. At exactly 0:00, clueless but happy, the children will discover their treasures. But still, it is quiet; only the sound of a ticking clock and the rustle of wrapping paper can be heard in a house that waits for the New Year’s miracle. 

By Alyona Baranova

Neighborhood Watch

By Emma Sobiski

Some Things That Make Home Feel More Like Home

By Morgan Lake


This is Grace McClane in her natural habitat, right here on MacArthur Street. It's the street we have all grown up on. It's seemingly mundane, unremarkable. Nevertheless, we find comfort in its normalcy, strength from its familiarity. When we are lost, unable to find our way back home, nothing brings more relief than the sight of that MacArthur street sign.  No  know matter where we are, we can always count on MacArthur Street to lead us back home.

By Ines Donfack

When it Comes to Friendship, Some Space is Good Space

My childhood best friend, Gwen, moved away at the end of the summer before seventh grade. Up until then, we both lived in a suburb of New York City and spent almost every day together. We experimented with makeup, gossiped about cute boys at school, and even spent one sleepover stuffing our A cups with socks. At twelve years old, we were on the brink of teenagedom and feverishly excited to explore all it had to offer. But towards the end of the school year, Gwen’s mom told her that she was getting remarried and that the family would be moving upstate to Ithaca.

Several years have passed, and Gwen and I are seventeen now. We’ve learned to make it work through Facetime sessions and visits once or twice a year. We often talk about how things would’ve turned out if she never left NYC. Recently, Gwen took a Greyhound to Manhattan to spend the weekend at my house. The days weren’t long enough, and when she left, I was sad to see her go. The whole ordeal felt reminiscent of the summer of 2012 and made me reflect on just how much things have changed between us.

Gwen and I are not the same people we were in middle school. With age, we’ve matured and aren’t carbon-copy clones of one another anymore. Right now, we’re both at a stage in which we’re making choices as to where to attend college and what kind of degree to go after. As expected, I’ve changed my mind a million times since sixth grade and don’t want to be a teacher anymore. Instead, I’m pursuing a career in writing. Gwen, who initially wanted to be an actress, now wants to work behind the camera.

It’s fun to compare our mutual glow-ups from our dorky twelve-year-old selves, but even writing this is bittersweet. It’s left me with a cold, hard truth: some space is good space. I have no doubt that the years Gwen and I spent together will always be some of the best of my life, but her moving revealed parts of me that I may not have discovered otherwise. Before she left, the two of us took acting lessons together, something that she enjoyed a lot more than me. Post-move, I didn’t hesitate to quit theater and learned that I liked reading plays rather than performing them.

My friendship with Gwen isn’t the only one that illustrates the lesson I’m touting. From sixth to eighth grade, I was in the same class as my best friend Marisa. When we began attending the same high school, we were both placed in the honors program, so we still had the bulk of our classes together. As freshman year came to a close, I realized that the school simply wasn’t working for me and transferred to one closer to my house. At the time, my biggest fear wasn’t entering a new school, but departing from my old one because it meant leaving Marisa behind. I had never been without a best friend constantly by my side. The lack of a familiar presence had made me afraid that just Sarah wouldn’t be enough.

Of course, this wasn’t true, and as I adapted to my new school, I found that being pushed outside of my comfort zone was a good thing. It allowed me to grow in ways that I wouldn’t have been able to otherwise. Not only that, but in an effort to make friends, I joined activities and clubs, which led me to discover new interests, like video production and volunteering. 

So basically what I’m saying is that the truth still stands. Some space is good space.

By Sarah Kearns


Troy, Alabama. The county seat of Pike County, “famous” for Troy University. Home to college students looking to start a quiet life and to middle-aged homeowners looking to conclude their quiet life. The birthplace of yours truly, the one writing this article.

On the cold early morning of December 28th, 2001 at approximately 4 A.M., Michael Jones was born in Troy Regional Medical Center to a recently wed Valorie and Michael Jones. He would go on to attend a boarding school and write for the acclaimed Lithium Magazine. While I was born and raised here, it is not a place that contains many early memories. I can recall attending a college class with my mom as a three-year-old. I can remember a house on Smith Street and a Power Wheels that looked like a Cadillac. Most vividly, I remember leaving, moving out of town to a bigger house with a forest for a yard.

To find more memories, I look to Fort Gaines, Georgia. Fort Gaines, a small town with a racially mixed population, was home to Clay County Schools, the workplace of my mother, and a school system with a very disproportionate racial makeup. I attended school with only black kids, having maybe two white classmates and one Latino classmate in my 10 years there. I remember having a girlfriend in fourth and fifth grade, being teased for being mixed, being the sensitive one, and demonstrating how sensitive I was whenever a rumor went around that I liked boys. I remember being a suckup to teachers, asking them to give me something to do when I got bored with work. I remember the awful uniform khakis and polos, and I remember being afraid to fail an assignment or get in trouble for anything out of fear for my future and out of sheer disappointment in myself (as if nine-year-old me could actually be ruined for a 70 on a quiz).

Chronologically, the next stage would be the one in which I talk about my freshman year. However, I resent that year of my life due to my simple displeasure in regards to the people from that time. Another reason I resent that year is simply because of the person I found myself to be at that time. I denied a lot of truths about myself and accepted a lot of inaccuracies as well, and I generally dislike what I thought I knew and what I liked at that time, and while I believe that everyone thinks of themselves that way at some point in time, I don’t wish to recall memories of that time at this moment.

Boarding school, sophomore year. Sophomore year marked a year of sheer development. I was still the person from freshman year. Over that year, however, I grew in ability and taste and knowledge at a remarkable speed. I remember bad papers I wrote for my English class, a history project I worked on halfheartedly and aced, tears of sadness and joy shared alike under the invisible stars, sandy hammocks and Ouija boards, and realizations and redefinitions of various features I saw integral to my being. I relive and recreate these memories daily at school, and I am immensely grateful.

And, today. I write this at home, on a break from school-home. I live and change with a living and changing environment, and I watch and react as the world adds and subtracts various things from my life. Home is always going to be within myself, but I am always amazed to find places, experiences, and people to share it with.

By Michael Jones

Long Beach

I live in Long Beach, CA and I absolutely adore it here. In the spring, flowers bloom in yellow and red; it's very unusual and unique due to the climate right by the beach. So many different colors and people live here. It's a mix of so many different places: we have tall, modern downtown right on the water by the sand. And if you start driving inland, there are flowers and life within.

By Ellie Andrews